Story of the Reformer: Huldrych Zwingli
God's plan for Church reform was to raise up influential Reformers all over Europe, who independent of each other, would challenge the Catholic Church and offer a more faithful alternative.
Huldrych Zwingli is a reformer who was born just two months after Martin Luther, in January 1484. His service to the church began after he finished his studies at the University of Basel. He first served as priest at his home town church in Glarus.
Zwingli had a early conviction that the word of God was the church's most important authority. At the same time that Luther was posting and defending his 95 Thesis, Zwingli began to preach through the entire New Testament; not in Latin which was the language of the church, but instead in German, which was the language of the people.
Zwingli affection for scripture made him question and test the teachings of the Catholic church against the teaching of scripture. Where scripture and the church taught differently, Huldrych would side with the word of God. This was a simple answer for the Swiss priest, but it was revolutionary in Switzerland. Zwingli was soon moved to Zurich and found great influence.
With a heart set on encouraging the people of God to seek God Himself in the Gospel of Christ. He preached and wrote challenges to the Roman Catholic doctrine and like Luther, he offered to debate any clergy willing to spar with him over ideas he found to be deeply scriptural. His gospel-centered "67 Articles" were a call for church reform. Article 16 is a good summary of Zwingli's challenge to the church:
16. from the Gospel we learn that the doctrines and traditions
of men are of no use to salvation.
As Huldrych continued to preach and argue his articles, many of the clergy in his district were in agreement and Zurich became thoroughly protestant. He led the reformation in Zurich for twelve years. His life and ministry were cut short when war broke out in the region. He joined the Zurich forces as a chaplain and died in battle.
Though Huldrych Zwingli died before he could see the Reformation spread to the rest of Europe, his faithfulness to scripture would be influential to future protestant leaders through his writings and legacy.